Of politicians and social networks

Published: July 19, 2011

Rehman Malik in the murky world of Twitter. PHOTO: REUTERS

With Rehman Malik declaring that 70% of the recent violence in Karachi can be attributed to (incredibly angry) wives and girlfriends and Jamaat-i-Islami declaring that Malik needs to see a doctor, the lines between farce and reality have been fairly blurred.

If not the usual suspects, it’s the new Sindh home minister saying that the multifarious problems of Karachi can be solved using a ‘wand of love’.

Harry Potter couldn’t have been happier to hear that ethnic divides, riots, tyre-burning, killings, strikes, loadshedding and the like could be solved with a loving wand.

But just when we thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre, Malik surpassed all expectations on the murky world of Twitter. Aficionados of the social network may be aware of the fiasco that took place in the virtual world this Friday, but for the rest of us who remain unfortunately aware, the incident was too ridiculous to be missed out on.

When an avid tweeter, @SamadK updated his Twitter biography to ‘media adviser to Rehman Malik, clearly I’m very competent.#Not,’ PPP supporters weren’t too happy about it. Before long, Malik was informed of this activity, which ‘obviously’ could not have been a flippant remark on a website well-known for flippant remarks from self-made political commentators.

The next thing you know was that the world of Twitter was in a frenzy over a tweet posted by Malik from his official account:

‘@SamadK is not my media adviser and I have ordered an inquiry to trace him and charge him under impersonation’.

This begs the question that if I were to tweet tomorrow saying that I was US President Obama’s manicurist, would the Central Intelligence Agency come and chase me down Osama bin Laden raid style?

It’s a tough world out here in the twenty-first century, where Facebook precipitates revolutions and Twitter initiates official investigations.

Last I heard, no investigation had begun so far. When I checked the hapless tweeter’s biography while writing this blog, he had (perhaps wisely) changed it to ‘Now I don’t really know what to put as my bio anymore’.

In the meanwhile, he’d managed to receive a barrage of supportive tweets.

Biographies describing tweeters as Malik’s pediatrician, psychologist and what-not popped up all over Twitter.

As for those of you interested in following the matter up with Rehman Malik, he can be found on Twitter under the name @SenRehmanMalik 

Heba Islam

Heba Islam

Heba Islam is a sub-editor at the national desk at Express Tribune. She tweets @hebaislam.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Bunty

    How CUTE!Recommend

  • Adeel

    Come on, everyone knows Samad has done it to get maximum publicity and you actually played into his hands. I am sure the number of his followers has swelled tremendously since you have published this. Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/ The Forbidden Fruit

    He should now update his bio to being “obama’s advisor” and Mallak saab would himself apologize.Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    @Adeel:
    Samad already has tons of followers and his name is already at the top of the Pakistani twitterati list. I doubt this blog post is going to do any more fan following for him than he already has.Recommend

  • http://shemrez.wordpress.com/ Shemrez Nauman Afzal

    La HAULA wela kuwat…Recommend

  • respect and tolerance

    excellent articleRecommend

  • .

    Nice one Sunshine!Recommend

  • http://none Rabia Meher

    It is both laughable and sad that the author needs to question whether misuse of online information is an innocent joke or a serious matter. The circumstances that this article can discuss can be serious, as well as whimsical and floundering (like the author is desperately trying to portray). While Adeel’s comment deserves a second reading, one must also look at the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance before one ought to write a “serious” piece on politics and social media. The internet is not only a medium of human interaction and exchange, it is also being increasingly construed as a “warzone” of ideas. The Pentagon already thinks of the internet as an electronic “battlefield”.
    I believe that’s where you got your “Osama bin Laden raid style”.

    Maybe you should just let the laws of Pakistan decide whether the Interior Minister can launch an inquiry on a self-made political commentator whom you are defending and who has the dubious honour of studying at an American Ivy League institution yet having refused to shake hands with the American ambassador to Pakistan “in order to make a political statement”. Typical Pakistani bigotry… Recommend

  • anis kazi

    bohat alaa,
    balloon wala.
    Recommend

  • Almas

    I see by Rabia Maher’s comment above that LUBP/CriticalPPP/FamiliesofPPPMNAs have reached this online location, ever-ready with their rhetorical knives, concocted arguments and circular logic to defend the democratic stalwarts of the PPP. You’re fighting a losing battle criticalpeeps.Recommend

  • http://none Rabia Meher

    @Almas: If you’re talking about me, I’m Rabia Meher, not Rabia Maher. And Express Tribune is not a difficult “online location” to reach.
    Firstly, I don’t think the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (or any amendments to it) are rhetorical knives – they are laws of Pakistan which are active and in force. Secondly, here are your “concocted” stories about the sensitivity of the online world first by a random tech website, and if you are too intellectual for everyone else, by the Atlantic Council as well. Thirdly, there could be no logic more circular or no action more self-defeating and ironic than what Samad Khurram did. If my logic is anywhere near as circular as that, I humbly apologize.
    And lastly, I don’t give a hoot about the PPP or their MNA’s or the Bhutto’s or their so-called shahadat‘s. To me they exemplify the hypocrisy that is exhibited by all Pakistanis, and I can say that because I am a Pakistani as well. You remind me of a typical LUMS student stuck in the typical LUMS bubble that you fail to get out of before you presume and assume things about other people that you don’t really know anything about, despite your overwhelming liberal arts education and penchant for cribbing about everything and anything. That’s fine I guess; your parents do end up paying millions of rupees for some skills at least, no?
    On a side note, its really cute how you are obviously expressing your deep and intimate friendship with the author that you have come to her rescue so dashingly instead of arguing on the merits and demerits of the article/blog piece that she wrote. Should I call you people fake civil society (FCS) now, just because you called me a critical PPP supporter or a LUBP-er and tried to nullify my argument with that?
    Because whatever you may say, and however you may gang up on me online, I still have an opinion and I have a right to express it. I don’t need my friends to back my opinions up. Deal with it, criticalpoop. Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Dear Rabia, Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance has been lapsed in November 2009 so currently we are surviving without any law. Recommend

  • Lawyered

    @Rabia Meher:

    “Firstly, I don’t think the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (or any amendments to it) are rhetorical knives – they are laws of Pakistan which are active and in force”

    This ordinance lapsed in November 2009. I think LUMS taught the author to check facts before she shared them on a public forum. I’m glad the “millions of ruppees” her parents shelled out were well spent. Whoops…Recommend

  • nibah fatimah

    u have done a mind blowing job!!!! awesooome!!!!!Recommend

  • nibah fatimah

    job well done!!!!!
    thumbs up!!!!Recommend

  • Anonymous

    @rabia meher: whoa, are you seriously questioning the author’s article on the basis of the fact that she went to a college you presumably didn’t (go to/ get into: what the difference anyway?) This is an excellent article that gets it’s point across very well. Furthermore a blog is definitely not a forum for serious political analysis. You have op-eds for that. Next time you critique a piece think about the intended purpose before hiding your obvious bias for all LUMS alumni behind ‘legal’ arguments. Also, a change of tone and some sliver of a sense of humour might help in having your critique taken seriously and prevent you from future ‘attacks’ from the author’s ‘friends (read anyone less embittered by life) Recommend

  • Basharat Saeed

    “they are laws of Pakistan which are active and in force”…LOLRecommend

  • Rafae Ghani

    Zoha would be proud :D Recommend

  • Lareb Sabir

    “Harry Potter couldn’t have been happier to hear that ethnic divides, riots, tyre-burning, killings, strikes, loadshedding and the like could be solved with a loving wand”.
    Nicely done Heba. Recommend

  • Sherbano

    Wah wah Recommend

  • http://none Rabia Meher

    @Anonymous, Lawyered and Anonymous: Thank you for your clarifications.
    Apparently I am that incompetent…Recommend